Sustainable Development Teaching: Ethical and Political Challenges, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Sustainable Development Teaching

Ethical and Political Challenges, 1st Edition

Edited by Katrien Van Poeck, Leif Östman, Johan Öhman


246 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-05-10
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The aim of this book is to support and inspire teachers to contribute to much-needed processes of sustainable development and to develop teaching practices and professional identities that allow them to cope with the specificity of sustainability issues and, in particular, with the teaching challenges related to the ethical and political dimension of environmental and sustainability education.

Bringing together recent scholarship on the topic, this book translates state-of-the-art academic research into teaching models, methods and tools. Starting with an outline of the challenge of sustainability, it offers insights and models for understanding the interesting yet ambiguous concept of ‘sustainable development’ and the complex process of transforming society in a more sustainable direction (Part I). It then goes on to provide a guide to preparing courses and lessons as well as tools for reflection about teaching practices and the multiplicity of approaches to addressing ethical and political challenges in sustainable development teaching (Part II). Finally, the book offers useful conceptual frameworks, models and typologies about the concrete design and implementation of sustainable development teaching (Part III).

This book will be essential reading for students of education, as well as teachers in compulsory and higher education and sustainability education researchers.


"This timely book provides depth, understanding and practical approaches for teachers and researchers to approach the complex topic of sustainability in education. Sustainability issues are complex in their nature and require teachers and students to develop ethical and political professional learning capabilities. To date there is little scholarly work to guide this process. This book offers innovative, and carefully theorised approaches for teachers and researchers alike."Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Distinguished Professor, Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University, South Africa

"Now that sustainability challenges are moving from the margins to the mainstream of society, there is a need for a practical rethinking of schooling, teaching and learning to help learners critically engage with these challenges. Some of the most inspiring and provoking ideas come from contemporary ‘Nordic’ reflective practitioners and pragmatic educational thinkers. This book brings together many of them in a rich collage of transformative essays that provide some welcome imagery of what Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality education) might look like when taken seriously."Arjen EJ Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability/UNESCO Chair, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

"This book brings together contemporary research on the ethical and political challenges of sustainable developing teaching, and makes it available for a broader audience of researchers, teacher educators, engaged teachers and students. The book is a must-read for anyone concerned about sustainable development teaching in this critical time of climate crisis, post-normal science and political uncertainty."Astrid T. Sinnes, Professor, science education, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

"In an unsustainable world with increasing social and environmental injustices and democratic institutions at risk, it becomes impossible to think of teaching activities stripped of ethical and political implications. This book offers insightful theoretical and methodological perspectives to help educators to deal with wicked sustainability problems in a pluralistic way."Luiz Marcelo de Carvalho, Professor, Departamento de Educação, Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquista Filho", Brazil

"Working on questions of sustainability in education raises urgent emotional, ethical and political questions both in the domain itself and in the teacher-student relationship. This important collection brings together essays that address these issues head on, and provides useful links between practical examples and underpinning educational philosophies. As such it makes an important contribution to the resources that all educators need to work in this area."Keri Facer, Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership, Uppsala University, Sweden

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sustainable development teaching – ethical and political challenges Katrien Van Poeck, Leif Östman and Johan Öhman

PART I: Education and the challenge of building a more sustainable world

1. Four misunderstandings about sustainability and transitions Thomas Block and Erik Paredis

2. Tackling wicked problems in teaching and learning. Sustainability issues as knowledge, ethical and political challenges Thomas Block, Katrien Van Poeck and Leif Östman

3. Principles for sustainable development teaching Leif Östman, Katrien Van Poeck and Johan Öhman

PART II: Choosing teaching content and approaches

4. Sustainable development teaching in view of qualification, socialisation and person-formation Katrien Van Poeck and Leif Östman

5. Different teaching traditions in environmental and sustainability education Johan Öhman and Leif Östman

6. The ethical tendency typology: Ethical and moral situations in environmental and sustainability education Johan Öhman and Leif Östman

7. A pragmatist perspective on value education Johan Öhman and David O. Kronlid

8. The political tendency typology: Different ways in which the political dimension of sustainability issues appears in educational practice Michael Håkansson, Katrien Van Poeck and Leif Östman

9. Deliberation and agonism: Two different approaches to the political dimension of environmental and sustainability education Ásgeir Tryggvason and Johan Öhman

PART III: Designing and implementing teaching and learning practices

10. A transactional theory on sustainability learning Leif Östman, Katrien Van Poeck and Johan Öhman

11. A transactional theory on sustainability teaching: Teacher moves Leif Östman, Katrien Van Poeck and Johan Öhman

12. Ethical moves: How teachers can open-up a space for articulating moral reactions and deliberating on ethical opinions regarding sustainability issues Katrien Van Poeck, Leif Östman and Johan Öhman

13. Political moves: How teachers can open-up for and handle poignant experiences of the conflictual aspects of sustainability issues Katrien Van Poeck and Leif Östman

14. Classroom discussions: Students’ learning in argumentation about ethical and political aspects of sustainability issues Karin Rudsberg and Johan Öhman

15. Power and governance in environmental and sustainability education practice Marie Öhman and Johan Öhman

16. Teaching as a matter of staging encounters with literary texts in environmental and sustainability education Petra Hansson

17. Taking-up ethical global issues in the classroom Louise Sund and Karen Pashby

18. Students as political subjects in discourses on sustainable development – a glimpse from Sarah’s classroom Iann Lundegård

19. Embodied experiences of ‘decision-making’ in face of uncertain and complex sustainability issues Pernilla Andersson

20. Political emotions in environmental and sustainability education Ásgeir Tryggvason and Andreas Mårdh

About the Editors

Katrien Van Poeck is a senior researcher on environmental and sustainability education at Ghent University’s Centre for Sustainable Development, Belgium.

Leif Östman is Professor of Curriculum Studies at Uppsala University’s Department of Education, Sweden.

Johan Öhman is Professor of Education at Örebro University’s School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Sweden.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Sustainability

Sustainability has become one of the most pressing social, environmental, economic, cultural and political issues of our times. Yet the meaning of ‘sustainability’ remains elusive.

This series provides original insights from across the social sciences and humanities on the meaning and practice of sustainability. It offers both theoretical and practical analysis of ‘sustainability’, including social sustainability, sustainable consumption, democratic sustainability and sustainable behaviour.

These interdisciplinary books give students, researchers, policy makers and practitioners the latest thinking from international authors. This thought-provoking series draws on and is relevant to those working in a wide-range of disciplines, including environment, development, sociology, politics, philosophy, business and marketing, media, geography, and anthropology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Environmental Science